Founded just over a year ago, Purella Food already has three product ranges containing its Korean-sourced chlorella including snack bars and Greendox fibre detox shakes.
Smoothies, a sports bar and raw confectionary balls were also part of the company’s big future plans to bring the microalgae to the Polish masses.
“Our main aim and what we are trying to do is focus on PR and communication and education to build awareness of chlorella. We want to be the top-of-mind superfood company in Poland,” Purella Food’s sales and marketing manager Artur Gajewski told us.
Social media has played a major part in the company’s strategy, with over 10,000 likes won on Facebook already.
The company planned to be profitable by the end of its second year, he said, but in the meantime all funds were being directed into PR and communication efforts and the expansion of its portfolio.
One such product launch came in March this year, when the Warsaw-based company unveiled its raw Chlorella Natural Energy Bar range.
The range includes three sugar-, soya-, gluten- and lactose-free varieties – nut, cranberry and orange – all of which contain additional ‘superfood’ ingredients like camu camu, baobab and goji berries.
Purella Food has been promoting the range on social media, boasting green microalgae's detox, energy-boosting and immunity-enhancing properties, although there are no approved chlorella health claims in Europe.
Poland was the company’s main focus, Gajewski said, where it was already listed in several Polish retail chains including Rossmann and by autumn it expected to be in Tesco, Carrefour and Leclerc.
Yet the company was also in confidential distribution talks for entry into the UK and Belgian market, and it had its long-term sights set on the likes of Holland & Barrett.
The rise of the ‘supergreen’ bar
In May, Mintel spotlighted Purella Food as an example of a manufacturer tapping into Polish consumer demand for healthy snack bars with an “original invention”.
According to the research firm, 70% of Poles view snack bars as a good on-the-go breakfast option.
“As a result the pace of innovation in the Polish snack bar market has increased in recent years, reflecting ongoing efforts to address the evolving needs of today’s consumers,” wrote Mintel food and drink analyst for Poland, Honorata Jarocka, in a blog post.
Jarocka said globally chlorella remained a relatively “rare” ingredient in snack bar launches despite its strong nutrition credentials including content of protein, vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and the supposed detox promoting chlorophyll.
Between March 2013 and February 2016, the algae featured in less than 1% of NPD, with the US accounting for a lion share 70% of chlorella-enriched launches, followed by Canada (17%) and Finland (9%).
While its algal cousin spirulina saw slightly more frequent use in global snack bar launches within the same period, this still made up just 1% of total NPD.
Nethertheless Jarocka said chlorella and other “supergreen” ingredients were well placed to tap into the considerable Polish consumer interest in healthier grab-and-go options.
Mintel research showed seven in 10 Polish consumers were interested in having a broader selection of snack bars with added health benefits and the same proportion were willing to pay more for bars with ‘natural’ ingredients.
Demand for high protein and gluten free bars was particularly high within this.
“On that basis, more snack bar brands are likely to follow in the footsteps of Purella Food and experiment with ‘supergreens’, however heavyweight promotional support would be required due to the niche status of such ingredients,” she said.